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Thomas William "Tom" Cochrane, OC OM (born May 14, 1953) is a Canadian musician known for his many hit songs and his charitable work. Cochrane fronts the Canadian rock band Red Rider and has won eight Juno Awards. He is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, an officer of the Order of Canada, and has an honorary doctorate from Brandon University. In September 2009 he was inducted onto the Canadian Walk of Fame.
Cochrane was born in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, to Violet and Tuck Cochrane, a bush pilot. The family relocated to Acton, Ontario, when Tom was four years old and later to Etobicoke, Ontario. He purchased his first guitar at age 11 by selling a toy train set. Cochrane attended Martingrove Collegiate Institute in the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, Tom was performing in coffee houses across Canada. He eventually made his way to Los Angeles where he found a job writing theme music for the movie My Pleasure Is My Business, the Xaviera Hollander story. Unable to find steady income from music, Cochrane returned to Toronto, where he drove a taxi cab and later took a job on a Caribbean cruise liner.
After meeting at the El Mocambo tavern in Toronto, Cochrane joined the Canadian rock band Red Rider in 1978 and served as their lead singer and main songwriter for more than ten years. Red Rider included Ken Greer, Jeff Jones, Peter Boynton and Rob Baker. Bruce Allen managed the band from their debut until 1985. Cochrane recorded six studio albums with Red Rider plus a live album, a best of album, and a box set. By 1986, the band was billed as "Tom Cochrane & Red Rider".
In 2002, Cochrane reunited with his former Red Rider bandmates Greer and Jones and continues to perform with them today. A complete listing of Red Rider's recordings is included below.
Already a household name in Canada from his time with Red Rider, Cochrane launched his solo career in 1991 with the release of the song "Life is a Highway." The single became a global success and was followed by the release of his Mad Mad World album, which would reach the six million mark in worldwide sales. The albums Ragged Ass Road, Songs of a Circling Spirit, X-Ray Sierra and No Stranger followed. Cochrane's massive body of music and energetic live shows have established him as one of Canada's most treasured artists.
An avid golfer, pilot, and hockey buff, Cochrane currently lives in Oakville, Ontario. He spends summers at his cottage/studio on the shores of Georgian Bay in Northern Ontario and winters part-time at his home outside of Austin, Texas. Tom and his wife Kathleene have two daughters, Cody and Evanne. Cochrane continues to tour and perform in Canada where he remains a popular live act. In 2006, the group Rascal Flatts charted in the top 10 of the Hot 100 with a cover of Tom Cochrane's "Life Is a Highway," which they recorded for the Pixar film Cars. Although "Life Is a Highway" was not released to country radio, several country stations began playing the song, causing it to chart within the top 20 of Hot Country Songs. Chris Ledoux also had a country hit with "Life Is A Highway".
In October, 2016, Cochrane celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his Mad Mad World album with the announcement of the release of a special edition of the album, featuring a demo recording of Love is a Highway, the working title of Life is a Highway, as well as a second disc featuring a live performance from a 1992 Chicago stop on the tour supporting the album. The celebration will continue into 2017 with a cross-country tour, and the release of a coffee table book about the album.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction: Cochrane was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2003 for outstanding contribution to the greater recognition of Canadian music. The ceremony took place April 5, 2003, at Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec. The following night, Cochrane was honoured for his induction in a speech by Jeff Healey at the Juno Awards at the Corel Centre (now Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa). Cochrane closed the show by performing a medley of his hits and was joined onstage by host Shania Twain for the final song, "Life Is a Highway".
Order of Canada: In April 2008, Cochrane received one of the highest honours for a Canadian citizen when he was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada (the level companion of the Order of Canada is the highest honour, and several people originally invested as officers have been promoted to companions for continued contributions to charity and the arts, among other fields). Cochrane was honoured for a lifetime of charity work, his contribution to the arts and for being unabashedly Canadian.
Canada's Walk of Fame: In September 2009, Cochrane was inducted onto Canada's Walk of Fame. The induction was highlighted by a two-hour nationally televised gala at Toronto's Four Season's Center for the Performing Arts. Anne Murray hosted the event which also included the inductions of Kim Cattrall, Raymond Burr, Blue Rodeo, Dsquared2, Howie Mandel, Robert Munsch and Chantal Petitclerc.
Honorary colonel: In November 2007, Cochrane was formally invested as an honorary colonel (HCol) by the Royal Canadian Air Force's 409 "Nighthawks" Tactical Fighter Squadron. As part of his investiture weekend, Cochrane experienced his second flight in a CF-18.
Honorary doctorate: In May 2005, Cochrane received an honorary doctorate from Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. In addition, musician James Ehnes, journalist Henry Champ and actress Shirley Douglas received honorary doctorates from the university at the spring convocation held May 28, 2005.
Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame Tom Cochrane was inducted on May 9, 2014, Gil Moore formerly of the band Triumph made the presentation.
Canadian Music Industry Humanitarian Award: In March 2005, Cochrane received the Humanitarian Award at the Canadian Music Industry Association's (CMIA) gala dinner in Toronto during the annual Canadian Music Week Festival.
Allan Waters Humanitarian Award: In April 2013, Tom Cochrane received the award at the 2013 Juno Awards gala dinner.
Henry H. Knowles Humanitarian Award In May 2014, Tom Cochrane received this award from OPSEU.
Order of Manitoba In July 2015 Tom Cochrane received the Order Of Manitoba.
Cochrane has been a longtime supporter of World Vision and has traveled to Africa several times. He has also served as the honorary chairman of the SuperWalk for Parkinsons and has been a proud supporter of WSPA, War Child, Amnesty International, and the Make Poverty History campaign.
Canada For Asia: On January 13, 2005, Cochrane, his wife Kathleene and Alex Lifeson spearheaded a benefit concert in support of tsunami relief in Asia. 150 Canadian stars appeared including Anne Murray, Bryan Adams, Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, Oscar Peterson, Celine Dion, Rush and Barenaked Ladies. The concert, which was produced and televised by CBC TV, raised over $4 million in pledges.
Live 8 Concert: On July 2, 2005, Cochrane kicked off the Canadian edition of the Live 8 benefit concerts in Barrie, Ontario performing his hits "Life Is A Highway" and "No Regrets". The Live 8 concerts took place in the G8 states and in South Africa to pressure world leaders to drop the debt of the world's poorest nations, increase and improve aid, and negotiate fair trade rules in the interest of the poorest countries.
Winnipeg Key to the City: On June 12, 2012, Tom Cochrane received Winnipeg, Manitoba's, key to the city.